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A Transatlantic History of Public Administration

Analyzing the USA, Germany and France

Fritz Sager, Christian Rosser, Céline Mavrot and Pascal Y. Hurni

Intellectual traditions are commonly regarded as cultural variations, historical legacies, or path dependencies. By analysing road junctions between different traditions of Public Administration this book contests the dominant perspective of path-dependent national silos, and highlights the ways in which they are hybrid and open to exogenous ideas.
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Chapter 7: Public Administration in Germany, France and the USA: traditional flavors or hybrid traditions?

Fritz Sager, Christian Rosser, Céline Mavrot and Pascal Y. Hurni

Extract

We find nine transfers of major ideas that took place in the USA, Germany and France. Our cases reveal three forms of transfers with partly overlapping characteristics. The dominant form is transfer driven by historical dilemmas, be they political, social or global. The second is a sociological form, in which transfer is driven by a given community of administrative professionals or scientific authors as a means of identity building and academic boundary delineation. The third form is transfer motivated by sheer intellectual curiosity. Considering the observed forms of the transatlantic transfer of administrative ideas in the nineteenth and twentieth century, there is clear evidence that the notion of administrative traditions prevails at a general historical level. The transfer of ideas does not lead to scientific revolutions but to incremental and gradual changes at the level of paradigms and ideas rather than in the abrupt changes in traditions themselves. Hybridity, therefore, is a phenomenon at the meso level rather than at the macro level.

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